Officers attending: Cindy Beckett, President; Jackie Myers, Vice President; Fred Thomas, Secretary
Senators attending: James Brooks, Susan Callender, Frank Clay, Ryan Murphy, Amanda Romero, Tom Singer, Marsha Wamsley, Charles C. Williams
Senators not attending: Derek Allen, Myra Grinner, Marti Shapiro
Others attending: Dona Fletcher, Laurel Mayer, Ned Young
Cindy called the meeting to order at 2:37 in Room 7342.
1. Approval of Minutes
Fred apologized that the minutes for the meeting of Jan. 12th were not ready for review. Tabled.
2. Special Orders
Jim reviewed the tabled proposal to modify Handbook section 2.4.5 on Faculty Workload (attachment FSMA20041117-02). He noted that this is the second year of the pilot and explained that the proposal would (1) set the maximum payload hours per academic year (Fall, Winter and Spring) at 72 regardless of the mode of instruction, (2) remove quarterly limits so that chairs and faculty can determine how best to distribute the load and (3) remove the current limit on summer load. Charlie moved to approve the proposed recommendation and Jackie seconded the motion.
There was extensive discussion with several Senators expressing support for the proposal and several others expressing concern. Among the major points raised in support of the motion were the need for more flexibility at the department level and the difficulty faced by many departments in finding enough qualified instructors. Jim also emphasized that the proposal would not force any faculty to teach an increased load, since faculty can still refuse to teach more than 18 hours in any quarter or more than 48 hours for the year. Among the concerns expressed were the difficulty of maintaining quality while teaching more than 22 hours per quarter and the possibility the change would lead to either informal pressure or a future policy that requires faculty to teach more hours. Several Senators felt that it should be the responsibility of the administration, not faculty, to find ways of covering additional classes. Cindy said that there were only about 23 faculty members in 2003-04 who were at or near the maximum imposed by the current policy.
Dona reported on a budget presentation in which President Johnson and other senior administrators indicated there are likely to be serious financial challenges ahead. Under current trends, Sinclair would be bankrupt by 2024—something the College will not allow to happen. There is serious discussion of layoffs, program elimination and other cuts. It seems unlikely that there will be a significant decrease in the number of tenure-track faculty, but the number of tenure-track faculty is unlikely to keep pace with growing enrollment.
Several Senators expressed the desire to have more data about the impact of the pilot on instruction. Cindy noted that FITs is also discussing a possible change to count lab and clinical hours at 1 payhour per contact hour, not at the current rate of 0.75. If this change occurs, it would substantially impact the staffing needs of many departments as well as having a substantial impact on the College budget.
Cindy asked all Senators to seek input from their division faculty about the workload proposal prior to the next Senate meeting on Feb. 9th. She said that she would also talk with Surinder Jain, Chair of DCC, to learn more about the Chairs’ perspective. The motion was tabled but will remain under the priority of “Special Orders” until Senate reaches a decision.
Tom reported that Forrest Cope is preparing a proposal to honor all faculty who have died while in service at Sinclair. Dona reviewed the status of efforts underway College-wide to honor Ellen and to help her family. Cindy will investigate a Sinclair Foundation paver as an additional step that Senate might take.
3. New Business
Marsha said there is concern among many faculty that support for web-based instruction is being reduced. Grant-funded positions have not been replaced and there can now be a waiting period of two years for new projects. Jackie agreed, adding that some faculty are being pushed to develop on-line degree programs without sufficient support. There is an effort to train faculty to serve as unpaid “gurus” as an alternative to replacing support staff.
Cindy reminded Senate of the Distance Learning policies implemented last year and said that she expects Nancy Thibeault to return this year with proposed revisions. Cindy asked Marsha to work with concerned faculty to develop a specific proposal regarding web support.
4. Committee Reports
Cindy reviewed the need to select a faculty member for the Health Care Committee. Amanda suggested that the matter be included on the agenda for the Faculty Assembly meeting and Cindy agreed to do so.
Cindy welcomed Ned Young to the meeting. Ned reported that he had met with President Johnson twice during the summer, three times in fall and once so far during winter. The discussions began much earlier and have been more open than in previous years. Ned is also pleased that the administration is prepared to consider major changes.
Ned reviewed the results of the fall faculty survey. Faculty priorities for FITs include compensation, benchmarks, lab pay, early and supplemental retirement, the connection between benefits and FITs, parity and range closure.
The FITs team and two external consultants are collecting data about Sinclair and about possible benchmarks. Ned said the gap has grown between Sinclair’s average pay and the AAUP 115% target, although it is not clear how much of the gap may have resulted from faculty retiring and being replaced by new faculty at lower ranks.
By April, the FITs team hopes to establish a one-year agreement that does not depend upon the data now being collected but which paves the way for more extensive future progress. Base pay, merit, red lining, closure, lab pay, retirement and other issues are all intertwined and need to be considered as a package. Ned hopes to provide Senate with a draft proposal in about a month.
The meeting adjourned at 4:09.
Submitted by Fred Thomas
Approved by Senate Feb. 9, 2005